Lloyd Gumbo Senior Reporter
President Mugabe will, together with other Zanu-PF leaders who participated in the liberation struggle, attend a crunch meeting, exclusively meant for war veterans in Harare in a fortnight’s time.
The meeting to be held on April 7, that President Mugabe recently said would be a frank engagement, would touch on a number of issues particularly those to do with the welfare of the country’s liberators.
This came up during a meeting of war veterans together with service chiefs in Harare yesterday, ahead of their meeting with President Mugabe, who is also patron of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association.
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The high table comprised Zanu-PF Secretary for War Veterans, Detainees, Restrictees and their Welfare and Defence Minister Dr Sydney Sekeramayi (who chaired the meeting), State Security Minister Kembo Mohadi, Welfare Services for War Veterans, War Collaborators, Ex-Political Detainees and Restrictees Minister Tshinga Dube and Home Affairs Minister Ignatius Chombo.
Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander Dr Constantine Chiwenga, Air Force of Zimbabwe Commander Air Marshal Perrance Shiri, Zimbabwe National Army Commander Lieutenant-General Philip Valerio Sibanda and Commissioner-General of Police Dr Augustine Chihuri also attended the meeting.
Also present were Central Intelligence Organisation Deputy Director-General Aaron Daniel Tonde Nhepera as well as Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services Deputy Commissioner-General Fadzai Mupfure who represented their bosses, Retired Major-Generals Happyton Bonyongwe and Paradzai Zimondi,respectively.
Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association national chairperson Cde Christopher Mutsvangwa and his entire executive including Manicaland Provincial Affairs Minister Cde Mandiitawepi Chimene in her capacity as ZNLWVA secretary for information also attended the meeting.
In a statement after the meeting, Permanent Secretary for Welfare Services for War Veterans, War Collaborators, Ex-Political Detainees and Restrictees Brigadier-General (Retired) Asher Walter Tapfumaneyi said only liberation war veterans would attend the meeting.
“In terms of criteria for participation, the meeting heard that His Excellency will come to the meeting with his fellow leaders of the party who were in the liberation struggle,” said Brig-Gen (Rtd) Tapfumaneyi. “Invitations will be exclusive only to liberation war veterans, with His Excellency remaining ready to hold separate meetings subsequently with war collaborators and ex-detainees.
“All issues of concern will be discussed along the themes to be demarcated. The themes to be discussed will include, foremost, war veterans statutory welfare benefits such as monthly pensions, school fees, medical support, funeral cover, business loans and other measures aimed at improving their livelihoods.”
Brig-Gen (Rtd) Tapfumaneyi said also discussed at the meeting were the criteria or eligibility for participation in the meeting with the President, the venue of the meeting, sub-categories and selection framework and expected total number of participants and content or themes of the discussion with the President.
“The meeting set up an Inter-Ministerial Committee of senior officials from the four ministries represented in the present meeting and all stakeholders, which is charged with the detailed preparations relating to structure, content, conduct and expected outcomes of the President’s meeting. The Permanent Secretary War Veterans will lead this committee,” he said.
The meeting with President Mugabe was expected to unite the war veterans who have of late been at each other’s throats.
Addressing the meeting earlier on, Cde Sekeramayi said there were detractors who were bent on destroying the party and the country but said they would be defeated.
The war veterans first held a minute of silence in honour of their coleagues who died during the liberation struggle.
“We have found it necessary to have this preliminary meeting so that there is adequate consultation before the meeting with His Excellency, the President,” said Cde Sekeramayi.
“We felt that every stakeholder should be involved and prepare together, advise each other so that the meeting with the President is a meeting that will be characterised by frankness and honesty. It will be a successful meeting and a meeting that cements the foundation of our nation. The foundation of our nation in the sense of the party and in the sense of the role played by war veterans in the liberation struggle. It should be a meeting between the war veterans and the President that charts the way forward as we build our country into a prosperous Zimbabwe.”
Cde Sekeramayi added: “There are various detractors and those detractors are working day and night, but just as we defeated them during the course of the liberation struggle, we will defeat them and we will have a united Zimbabwe. A Zimbabwe that has got a dynamic economy. A Zimbabwe that we are all proud of. A Zimbabwe that those of our comrades whom we left in mass graves in Zambia, in Mozambique, in Botswana and to some extent in Tanzania they will say ‘yes we didn’t die for nothing. Those who survived the war are continuing the commitment that we had right from the beginning.”